It’s only natural for presidential candidates to focus on a handful of issues that are of particular importance to them, but Ben Carson’s preoccupation with Hitler seems like a bad idea.
In the Republican candidate’s new book, Carson argues that German gun-control policies 80 years ago contributed to the Holocaust. Yesterday, Wolf Blitzer asked the retired right-wing neurosurgeon to elaborate on his bizarre thesis.
Carson, a former neurosurgeon, has drawn criticism for invoking the Holocaust when discussing gun control. In an interview Thursday on CNN, Carson said, “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” prompting an immediate backlash.
He added, “There’s a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
A Washington Post piece tried to characterize this nonsense in the most charitable way possible, writing that Carson “has generated headlines repeatedly for speaking his mind.”
The problem, of course, is what’s actually on Carson’s mind. His unguarded qualities may seem refreshing, but when candidates for the nation’s highest office make offensive comments divorced from reality, it’s not a positive development.
In this case, Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, explained in a statement that Carson “has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate.” Greenblatt added that “gun control did not cause the Holocaust.”
Common sense suggests this would be the point at which Carson walked back his comments, but instead, he said the ADL’s reference to historical facts was “total foolishness.”
Because, really, who are you going to believe about the Holocaust – the Anti-Defamation League or an unhinged presidential candidate?
Carson sat down with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell earlier today, and the interview led to this exchange:
MITCHELL: The Holocaust. This also was raised and you suggested that if the Jews had been armed, if they had had guns, Hitler could not have succeeded. Isn’t that mischaracterizing the enormity of what happened?CARSON: Well not only the Jews, but the entire populous. This is a general pattern that you see before tyranny occurs. There are many countries where that has occurred where they disarm the populous before they impose their tyrannical rule. That’s not a rare situation and that’s something that we don’t want to ever even think about and that’s one of the reason that Daniel Webster said what he said. He said there will never be tyranny in the United States because the people are armed.
First, it was Noah Webster, not Daniel Webster.
Second, Noah Webster was debating standing armies in the late 18th century, not consumers’ access to deadly weapons in the 21st century.
Third, plenty of countries have restricted consumer access to firearms without creating dictatorial dystopias.
And finally, Carson really ought to scale back his frequent Nazi references. This is a subject he obviously knows very little about, and his frequent references to Hitler are both creepy and alarming.